Guest Bloggers

Eliane Luthi – Communications Specialist, UNICEF Burundi



Eliane Luthi is Communications Specialist at UNICEF Burundi. She came to UNICEF after a number of years working in the Olympic Movement, in particular for the Youth Olympic Games, and believes in the power of sport for development. She is specialized in storytelling and social media and is always looking for new ways to tell the world about the situation of children in Burundi. Her motto: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Walt Disney.

Eliane has shared with Po na Bana her views, from Burundi, on the Children’s Forum of Hope. 

Sandra Choufani – Head of the Canadian Cooperation in the DRC

Sandra Choufani Canada Sandra Choufani is Counsellor and Head of Cooperation at the Embassy of Canada in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She has worked forthe Canadian cooperation for almost 10 years. Her career has focused particularly on working in vulnerable states such as Afghanistan, the West Bank, Gaza and Haiti. This Canadian diplomat is committed to improving the situation of children, in particular young girls, who were the focus of her work notably in Afghanistan.

On Po na Bana, Sandra Choufani reviewed the international Summit ‘Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach’:

Dario Tedesco – Vulcanologist


Originating from Naples, Dario Tedesco has a Ph.D. that he obtained in 1987 from the Department of Geophysics and Volcanology within the Centre for studies in weak radioactivity of the CNRS.

Having in-depth knowledge of volcanic risks in the Congo, he has international experience in this field and is a member of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the risk of volcanic and seismic activity in the DRC. Notably, he participated in drawing up an emergency evacuation plan for the city of Goma.

For Po na Bana, Dario wrote on the importance of raising awareness in children to prevent risks associated with natural disasters.

Dr Félix Numbi Mukwampa – Public Health Minister for the DRC

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Dr. Félix Kabange Numbi Mukwampa is Public Health Minister for the Democratic Republic of the Congo within the Matata government. For Pona Bana he delivered an impassioned plea on the importance of vaccination in order to increase and intensify services provision and healthcare required by children and women especially.

Mike Ormsby – Writer

Mike Ormsby is an English journalist turned writer. After reporting for BBC, he become a journalism trainer, which led him to DR Congo in 2002. Now based in Azerbaijan, though he considers Romania as his home, he has written a novel about Congolese children accused of sorcery.

He agreed to be interviewed by Po na bana about his last novel ‘Child Witch”.

Christopher Pycroft – Mission Head of the British Cooperative in the DRC


Christopher Pycroft has been the Mission Head of the British Cooperative (DFID) in the Democratic Republic of Congo since August of 2011.

He has worked as a government advisor for the DFID in Nigeria and Southeast Asia, and as Deputy Head of the DFID in Afghanistan.

He believes the DFID mission in the DRC is exciting because it involves findings innovative and effective ways to support the reduction of poverty in a vast and complex country. Don’t miss his article about World Water Day: Mayi po na bana ya RDC (De l’eau pour les enfants de la RDC)

Jeremy Gilley – Actor, Producer and Founder of Peace One Day

Jeremy Gilley Peace One Day and children North Kivu

Jeremy Gilley is an actor turned producer. In the late 1990s, he began to reflect upon the basis of human nature and the issue of peace. He decided to explore these issues through film, producing a documentary about his campaign to establish an annual cease-fire and non-violence day.

The objective of the Peace One Day project in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes region is to encourage all parties to unite in the name of peace on September 21.

Read his article on the role of young people in building peace:

More information on Peace One Day:

Sylvie Vwiranda – Psychologist


A clinical psychologist, Sylvie grew up in North Kivu. Today, she provides psychosocial support to victims of sexual violence and works to increase awareness and capacitation among medical personnel and State authorities involved in fighting sexual violence and providing support to victims.

She has written a fascinating article entitled:  “Poviding Psychological Support to Victims of Sexual Violence”

Mariya Gabriel – Euro-MP


Mariya Gabriel has been a member of the European  Parliament, and part of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) Group, since 2009. She is the elected Bulgarian representative and member of the Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly as well as of the Agriculture and Rural Development Commissions and Petitions.

She has shared with Pona Bana readers her commitment to reducing maternal and infant mortality in the DRC: Restons mobilisés pour réduire la mortalité maternelle et infantile

Patricia Willocq – Photographer


Patricia Willocq was born and raised in Kinshasa (Congo DRC). She has traveled the world, including Ireland, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, Chile, Thailand and the Congo.

She became interested in photography after having been published twice in the Chilean magazine Geographica. Since then, she has continued to evolve in this area. Although she has spent the last year working mainly as a fashion photographer, she has remained active in the fields of travel, nature and maternity photography. Her work has appeared in several magazines worldwide, including in Chile, France, Turkey and the Congo.

She wrote an article for Po na Bana about her exhibition “White Ebony” on child albinos.
Learn more about her work:

Annika Ben David – Swedish Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo 

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Annika Ben David is the new Swedish Ambassador to the DR Congo, a position she has held since September of 2013. Formerly Deputy Director and Section Head of the Africa Department at Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she visited the DRC, including the eastern part of the country, on several occasions prior to becoming Ambassador. She had previously been assigned to the Swedish Embassy in Tanzania and twice to the Swedish Embassy in Israel.

Before joining the Swedish diplomatic service, she worked for the UNHCR.

Read her article on protecting children from being recruited and used by armed forces and groups.

Pascal Bijleveld – Specialist in Maternal, Newborn and Child Health

Pascal Bijleveld

Pascal Bijleveld is the Senior Executive Manager of UNICEF’s Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Trust Fund in New York. An expert in the field of public health for more than ten years, he has spent several years in places such as Kenya and Rwanda.

Following his field visit to the DRC, Pascal Bijleveld shared with us his thoughts on efforts to reduce maternal and infant mortality in the country:

Aloys Kamuragiye – UNICEF Representative in the Republic of Congo 

Aloys Kamuragiye Representant UNICEF Congo

Aloys Kamuragiye is a UNICEF Representative in the Republic of Congo. As a physician, he has worked for children with UNICEF for more than 20 years. His work has taken him to Burundi, Guinea, Madagascar and the Comoros and he has served as a UNICEF Representative in Djibouti and Morocco.

Click here to read the open letter he wrote following his visit to UNICEF DRC for a meeting with his management and innovation team (COMIT).

Yoka Brandt – Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF 


Yoka Brandt joined UNICEF in February of 2012 as Deputy Executive Director of Foreign Affairs. She has 20 years of experience in the field of international aid and emergency humanitarian action.

Throughout her career, Yoka Brandt has taken an interest in development issues, particularly with respect to Africa and the eradication of poverty.

Click here to view her journal, published on Pona Bana during her visit to the DRC in January of 2014.

Photo Credit: © UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0057/Susan Markisz.

Diana Mrazikova – Photographer

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From Los Angeles to Dakat, Prague and Havana, Diana has worked for major magazines including CosmopolitanMarie ClaireEsquire and OK! Magazine.

In Africa, she has produced multimedia documentaries, photos and short films for organizations such as UNICEF, JHUCCP/USAID, ICRC and more. Here entire portfolio is available at:

Her photograph entitled “A mother and her child in Lubumbashi” was named the “2013 Photo of the Year” by friends and supporters of UNICEF DRC.  Her article is available at:

Kelvin Batumike – Head of Communication and Education Department at the Observatory for Human Rights

681177dc9bd8f5d608f6d17c0243d51eKelvin Batumike has been an advocate for children’s rights since a very young age. A former child reporter, nowadays, he is head of the Department for Communication, Education and Training at the Observatory for Human Rights. As a producer, director and the founder of the creative centre ‘Kivu Youth Entertainment’, he has taken it upon himself to promote young people and their talents so as to enable them to assume their responsibilities for development of the DR Congo.

He is still writing a lot for Ponabana ; his last article informs us about children’s rights in the Great Lakes Region.

Perrine Piton – Photographer


Perrine Piton has been able to make his three passionate cultural pursuits of reading, writing and photography, a springboard for her professional life. After several years in Paris, working in the field of literature, Perrine settled in the Congo and was heavily involved in creating the magazine IMPACT while contributing to various communications projects with international NGO’s and United Nations agencies.

This included the making of seven short films together with seven human interest stories, made with UNICEF, on the principal issues that children are facing in the DRC.

Discover her pictures : Sticks and stones and miraculous return.

Sara Murray – Electronic Payment Program Manager from Mercy Cops

1734c42d9bf67a2e74f7a3e845604294As Mercy Corps’ Electronic Payment Program Manager, Sara Murray works with teams across the globe to deliver humanitarian aid using new technologies. Recently, Sara has designed, implemented and evaluated emergency response and recovery programs in Nepal, the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Thanks to her, learn more on the e-vouchers system.

Her organisation :

Emily Bamford – Wash officer at UNICEF

2a663d534cd76a373d041cf22fc5372cEmily Bamford is a UNICEF Water Sanitation and Hygiene Officer, based in New York. Previously she has worked for UNICEF in the Central African Republic and Sierra Leone. She currently specialises in Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS), cost effective borehole drilling and climate change resilience.

She shares with us her knowledge on healthy villages and healthy schools.

Benoit Almeras – Communication officer for the UNDP in the eastern zone of DRC

c3f14c0cb335b2eb37ff0773050e70bbBenoit Almeras is a United Nations volunteer- he is responsible for communication for the UN development programme in the eastern zone of the Democratic Republic of Congo. As well as his passion for photography and Congolese music, he likes to tell the stories of the people he meets. His mantra is: “If travelling shapes youth then I want to stay forever young!”

Find out the nice pictures he took for Ponabana : ; ;

Flavio Saudade – Project Coordinator in NGO Viva Rio, Port-au-Prince, Haïti

6f31cb6a517058a38d2aeedcda1e6cf7Flavio Saudade began practicing capoeira when he was 14 years old. Since 2008, he has coordinated the Gingando pela Paz project launched by the NGO Viva Rio in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Flavio supports the Capoeira for Peace project by lending his international expertise.

Discover his work for the project Capoeira4Peace.

Kim Thomas – Photographer

c07f026c86cc52f5caa382f1124c723aKim Thomas is a freelance photographer who based out of Vancouver, Canada and San Francisco. She is currently finishing up her degree in Gender, Race and Social Justice and is hoping that through her education, she can continue with activism through her photography.

Don’t miss her touching pictures : For a girl’s smile and Children playing at school.

Gwenn Dubourthoumieu – Photographer

cf8eadcdd920de5674710d1122498551Gwenn Dubourthoumieu became interested in photography while working in Africa for humanitarian NGOs. Professional since 2010, his work is regularly rewarded.   He made a series of photographs illustrating the work of UNICEF for child nutrition in Bandundu.

He captured the smile of children playing football outside an Intensive Therapeutic Feeding Center : it’s here !

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Adrien Majourel

Adrien Majourel est Officier de communication à l’Unicef RDC et administrateur de Pona Bana. Spécialisé en relations internationales et journalisme, il est convaincu de l’importance de donner de la voix aux enfants car bien souvent ce qu’ils voient échappe à des yeux d’adultes. Son crédo ? « Les enfants sont des énigmes lumineuses » Daniel Pennac

Adrien Majourel is Communications Officer at UNICEF DRC and manager of Pona Bana. Specialized in International Relations and Journalism, he believes it is important to give children a voice as what they see often slips from adult’s grasp. l’importance de donner de la voix aux enfants car bien souvent ce qu’ils voient échappe à des yeux d’adultes. His leitmotiv ? « Children are luminous enigmas » Daniel Pennac

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